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Archive for the ‘Baltimore Orioles’ Category

A Tale of Two Cities

When you have the opportunity to travel 786 miles to see four MLB teams play in two separate games, you just have to do it. Because after all, this is summer. And even if football has returned to our TV screens, summertime is baseball time.

So maybe that’s not exactly there reason these two games happened within days of each other. As luck – and my work schedule – would have it, I had the chance to drive to Cleveland midweek to see the Yankees and Indians play, and then travel to Baltimore to see the A’s and Orioles that weekend. It was a lot of baseball in one week, or as I would call it – heaven.

11873495_806461130381_1585491247349533703_nWednesday August 12 Yankees at Indians
Final Score: Yankees 1, Indians 2
WP: Danny Salazar LP: C.C. Sabathia S: Cody Allen
Distance traveled: approximately 694 miles

The circumstances surrounding this game might make it the most perfect game I will experience all season long. After spending Tuesday and most of Wednesday with my family, I met up with my best friend Lisa who is the reason I ever started watching baseball. We made plans to head into Cleveland so I could be fitted for my matron of honor dress (Lisa is getting married next July), have dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, and see two of our favorite teams play. Lisa decided to wear an Indians shirt since we were in our hometown and her beloved Jeter is retired, and was very supportive of my Rodriguez jersey. For friends cheering for competing teams, we were very peaceful. And our seats were so good, I could have probably carried on a conversation with Chase Headley if I yelled loud enough.
Before the game, I was worried for the Yankees for a number of reasons: the previous night’s game lasted 16 innings (past midnight), the Blue Jays were closing in on 1st place in A.L. East, and the struggling C.C. Sabathia was starting. Surprisingly, it was a fairly good game despite the Yankees loss. Sometime Wednesday afternoon I had a sudden feeling of confidence in Sabathia. Cleveland is where he started his career in 2001 and won the Cy Young Award in 2007. He was incredibly gracious when he left, and I’ve always felt there was a mutual admiration between him and the city. Sure enough, he settled in well and allowed only 2 runs (all the Indians needed to win) on 9 hits in 6IP (2BB, 2SO).
Another cause of pregame nerves was hearing the Yankees had brought up Chris Capuano after he was previously been designated for assignment. When I saw a left handed pitcher warming up during the 6th inning, I was nearly in tears in the stands expecting Capuano to appear for the 7th inning. Much to my surprise, the lefty was actually Chasen Shreve who is not only a far better pitcher than Capuano (at this point in their careers at the very least) but one of my favorite players to watch this season.
A funny thing about this game are the Indians’ bullpens. During the past off season, the bullpens were moved closer to center field and are “stacked” (they used to be parallel to the foul lines and had very limited exposure to fans in the stadium). Late in the game, both Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances were halfheartedly warming up (neither made an appearance in the game). Both are so tall (Miller 6’7” and Betances 6’8”) they both looked like they might hit the ceiling of the bullpen just by walking. It was a little surprising (at least from my angle) they were able to bring their arms up and around to throw.

11892035_807091866381_7279539388366583417_nSaturday August 15 Athletics and Orioles
Final Score: A’s 3, O’s 4

WP: Zach Britton LP: Pat Venditte
Distance traveled: only about 92 miles
When you think of a really good baseball games, this was one of them.
Camden Yards was packed, and everyone was wearing orange thanks to the J.J. Hardy jersey giveaway. (Some of us arrived too late for the jersey, but were already wearing orange Chris Davis and Manny Machado shirts.)
It started out rough. After Billy Burns hit a triple (to center field – but he’s kind of fast), Mark Canha grounded out to first and of course speedy Butler scored. Miguel Gonzalez settled down for a few innings, and then gave Sam Fuld a nice pitch to hit over the right field wall for his second home run of the season (right after I laughed at home for having only one).
There we stayed with a score of 3-0 and about 44,000 disappointed Orioles fans (the 10 A’s fans in attendance were quite content). In the 4th inning, Gerardo Parra (one of the newest Orioles) hit a single, and stayed there until Chris Davis sent a pitch over the right field wall. Two innings later, Parra continued his impressive start with the Orioles by also hitting a home run over the right field wall – tie game.
After that, the game was up to the pitchers. First, fan favorite Darren O’Day came on to pitch for the Orioles in the top of the 8th, followed by closer Britton in the top of the 9th. The A’s left their starting pitcher Chris Bassitt in through 8 innings, and was relieved by SHP Pat Venditte.
Seeing Venditte pitch was a unique experience. The scoreboard listed him as a RHP, and he did throw considerably faster with his right arm. When he was first announced, I quickly looked to see who was up for the Orioles – Parra (L), Jones (r), Davis (L). If I had the chance to see Pat Venditte pitch, I wanted to see him pitch with both arms! After Parra flew out, Venditte switched to RHP as my husband watched in disbelief. When Adam Jones grounded out and Venditte switched back to LHP to face Davis, my husband yelled “What kind of gimmick is this?!” Suddenly, the ball goes flying into the air – and again, over the right field wall. (Wouldn’t you know we were sitting in left field?)
The Orioles won in the bottom of the 9th by a walkoff home run, and the place exploded in excitement. As is Baltimore tradition after such a big moment, Adam Jones came out of the dugout to throw a pie in Davis’ face, which he gladly accepted after being the hero of the game.

This past week met a few weird fan goals for me this season. First, I (again) saw my 4 favorite teams play in their home stadiums (Yankees, Orioles, Indians, and Nationals). To top that, I’ve seen my favorite team (Yankees) play in all four of those cities.
From this point, it’s a long wait for another live MLB game. Next game on the schedule is September 18 when the Marlins take on the Nats in DC, followed by Yankees at Orioles to close out the regular season the first weekend in October. So far – and looking ahead – it’s been a good baseball season for this fan!


Baltimore and Baseball

The Orioles – and as a result the White Sox and Rays – have had some major changes to their schedules as a result of the riots in Baltimore. The Orioles feel at a disadvantage for losing three games in their home stadium (being the home team at Tropicana Field is not really being home), although overall this seems to be the best option for all teams involved. Team members have indicated they agree with the decision by MLB and the city of Baltimore, and manager Buck Showalter is considering this just another challenge a team might face during the season.

Obviously, I’m a baseball fan (and an Orioles fan) so I’m paying attention to the schedule changes. I’m also fairly close to Baltimore (my house is 44 miles from Camden Yards) so this is happening close to home. I can’t help but wonder how people who aren’t near Baltimore and aren’t baseball fans perceive these changes. It must seem like MLB and the city of Baltimore rearranged these schedules to accommodate for millionaire baseball players.

To a certain point, that’s true. The Orioles stayed safe in their homes and the White Sox stayed safe in their hotel. But the fans stayed home too – along with employees of Camden Yards and hundreds of other Baltimore businesses. The effects of the schedule changes were felt by more than just millionaire baseball players, just like the effects of the riots are effecting people in Baltimore and across the nation (maybe even the world).

Like many other cities and many other stadiums, the area around Camden Yards is buzzing before, during, and after Orioles games. There are several bars and restaurants around the stadium that are packed with fans in orange. Trying to leave Baltimore after a game is a nightmare because of the volume of cars and poorly designed streets leading to the freeways out of the city. But even with all the chaos, it’s exciting. Orioles fans love their team, and their team seems to love them back.

It’s so strange to think of that area as quiet. No game for two days, and a game closed to the public today. There were some dedicated fans standing outside the park, trying to see anything they could over the fences – but they’re only a fraction of the number of fans usually sitting in Camden Yards.

The sad thing to remember in all of this – bigger than inconveniencing baseball – is everything and everyone effected by the changes MLB and the Orioles (plus White Sox, Rays, and the Rays organization/St. Petersburg) were forced to make. If bars/restaurants around the stadium are open, they’re seeing a huge drop in sales. If they’re closed, their employees aren’t getting paid. The people employed at Camden Yards have missed work Monday and Tuesday, only a few worked today, and they’ll all miss work Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. That’s a big hit to citizens of a city that’s already suffering.

Whatever you may think of the events happening in Baltimore, or the changes baseball made as a result of the riots, I hope you remember how many people this all affects as whole. Baltimore isn’t a bad city, and I would highly recommend any baseball fan see a game at Camden Yards – it’s a great experience and a beautiful park. It’s a shame to see this happening in any city, let alone one so close to home.

For everyone involved, in any way, I hope the situation in Baltimore resolves soon so the city can begin to heal and recover. Hopefully, baseball and the Orioles can soon be a bright spot for a city that has greatly suffered recently.